Bill’s off today, so you get me two days in a row. Try to hold back your excitement. I basically used up all my similes yesterday, however, so today we’re going to break with our usual format. I’m basically a bundle of nervousness, who tries to hide it beneath an authoritative pseudonym. You want to understand me? Peer deep into my soul, and see an extensive list of things that worry me:
I worry that Domonic Brown (oh-for-four last night, with two Ks) will never hit Major League pitching and that idiots will use that as “evidence” that some guys aren’t mentally tough enough to get out of AAA. Brown has now hit .197/.243/.333 in 74 career plate appearances with 26 strikeouts. At AAA Lehigh Valley, he is .345/.402/.554 in 169 plate appearances. Neither numbers are terribly significant. The kid needs time and stability.
I worry that the Twins will try to keep Matt Capps (three blown saves after giving up a game winning grand slam last night) this offseason and pay him eleventy million dollars because he’s a “closer”. He’s 1-3 witha 5.06 ERA. He has 13 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. And he is in the middle of one of his homer-prone streaks. But dude. He’s on pace to get more than 30 saves!
I worry that Michael Pineda (7 innings, 9 Ks) is too good to last. He’s got a 2.16 ERA and is 6-2 through 58.1 innings. He’s struck out 61 guys. Now, he’s lucked out by getting to face the hopeless Twins, Padres, Orioles, and A’s offenses in his nine starts, but that’s still very impressive for a 22 year old. But, as we’ve seen with phenoms Stephen Strasburg, Ardolys Chapman, and Mat Latos, success can be a fragile state when you’re a young pitcher. Actually, truth be told, I worry about all young pitchers who show even a little success at a young age. I want so badly to see and appreciate the entire career arc of a Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, or Roger Clemens, and I mourn for all the young guys who fall along the way. At 6’7″, 270 lbs, Pineda looks sturdy. But only time is going to tell how his shoulder and elbow hold up to throwing that hard with that much movement. So far, the track record is not looking that encouraging.
I worry that the real Johan Santana will never come back. You’d think, being a Twins fan, I’d be more worried about Francisco Liriano, but I still have a huge soft spot in my heart for Johan. I bear him no ill will that he got too expensive for the Twins to hold onto, and I don’t blame him for the horrible way the deal turned out for the Twins. I do remember players swinging over Santana’s magical changeup, as if it were being pulled away from them by an invisible string at the last moment. I miss his calmness on the mound, and the way that translated to “I got this one” to the rest of the team and to the fans. I wish him nothing but success with the Mets and whoever he ends up pitching for for the rest of his career. I’m just sad the symphonic Johan I remember may be gone for good. I’d pay a boatload of money to watch him again.
I worry that this is how we’ll remember Raul Ibanez (.232/.293/.364). Old and slow, and unable to hit a fastball. Ibanez had such an unusual career path, never even getting 300 plate appearances in a season until he was 29, and then becoming a solid hitter for the rest of his career. Poor Raul. He was a very good and consistent player (though almost never excellent) for a relatively long time, and all anyone can say about him now is that he’s killing the Phillies offensively (which, he is). 114 career OPS+, 236 career homers. Respect.
I worry that Bill Smith hasn’t learned from his mistakes and can’t undo the mess he’s made. The Twins remain a mess and are done in 2011. There’s simply no way around this. It’s unclear, however, whether the front office realizes it. And if they do, and go into “sell” mode, it’s increasingly unclear whether Smith has the chops to salvage a good prospect or two from the fire that is this dismal season. A look at the deals Smith has done since taking over for Terry Ryan shows a stunning inability to identify players who will advance and develop as Minnesota Twins. His dealings have left the Twins incredibly thin at almost every position, and unable to deal with even one or two big injuries, let alone the deluge that has swept up the team this year. And I have no faith in Smith’s ability to build it back up. Is this what having JP Ricciardi for a GM was like? Seriously, having Bill Smith as your GM is like letting Bernie Madoff run your finances. you think it’s going good based on the figures he’s showing you, but you still end up broke and depressed.
Oh, what do you know? I did have one more simile in me.